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Govt presses NTPC divestment accelerator
New Delhi, July 30
The government has decided to move forward for the divestment of its share in the public sector major National Thermal Power Corporation despite stiff opposition from the Leftist parties. Union Power Minister P.M. Sayeed today said the government would file draft prospectus next week for sale of its equity in NTPC.

Airtel rings in EDGE
 Sunil Bharti MittalChandigarh, July 30
Airtel subscribers can now get live TV, watch videos and experience high-speed Internet surfing on their mobile handsets with Airtel announcing the launch of EDGE (Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution) services, the first of its kind in Punjab.

IA crashes fares to Jet, Sahara levels
New Delhi, July 30
The war in air fares turned full circle today with the Indian Airlines announcing new apex rates for the ticket purchased 28 days in advance in eight sectors. It would help it compete with the private airlines offering similar fares to attract second AC train passengers. The new D-28 segment would be valid for travel on the Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Hyderabad, Delhi-Bangalore, Delhi-Chennai, Kolkata-Mumbai, Kolkata-Bangalore and Chennai- Kolkata sectors.

An autorickshaw driver pulls his vehicle with the help of a horse during a demonstration against the hike in petrol and diesel prices in Hubli on Friday. The demonstration was organised by the Hubli-Dharawad Auto-owners and Drivers Association. — PTI


A pet groomer trims the fur of a poodle at a parlour in Chongqing, Southwestern China, on Friday. Pet grooming, including haircut and colouring, starts at 300 yuan (about $36) for small dogs in China.
A pet groomer trims the fur of a poodle at a parlour in Chongqing, Southwestern China, on Friday. Pet grooming, including haircut and colouring, starts at 300 yuan (about $36) for small dogs in China. — Reuters


EARLIER STORIES

 


Steel exporters’ gain is SSIs’ loss
New Delhi, July 30
The government’s move to restore benefits to steel exporters is likely to directly affect the small-scale industry as the steel prices would soar further. The government has restored the benefits to steel exporters under the Duty Entitlement Passbook Scheme with effect from July 12.

Speed up domestic tax reforms, urges Munjal
Chennai, July 30
The Confederation of Indian Industry President, Mr Sunil Kant Munjal, said here today while the industry body welcomed free trade agreements, it was important for the government to accelerate domestic tax reforms.

Inflation outlook to be same: RBI
Mumbai, July 30
Despite inflation hovering over the 6 per cent mark, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today said it will not change the inflation outlook of around 5 per cent for the fiscal 2004-05 and expressed confidence on conducting Centre’s borrowing programme without difficulty.

Corporate News

Ranbaxy profit declines 4.6 pc
New Delhi, July 30
Ranbaxy Laboratories has registered a decline of 4.6 per cent in net profit at Rs 195.8 crore for the second quarter ended June 30, 2004, as against Rs 205.3 crore recorded in the corresponding quarter of the previous year.
  • ITC

  • Tata Elxsi

  • IOC

  • Century Enka

  • CESC

In graphic: FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT APPROVALS AND INFLOWS.

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Govt presses NTPC divestment accelerator
Tribune News Service

Corpn pays dividend

National Thermal Power Corp (NTPC) today paid a dividend of Rs 1,082.32 crore for the year 2003-04 to the government. The cheque for the amount was presented to Power Minister P.M. Sayeed by NTPC CMD C.P. Jain. NTPC had announced a net profit of Rs 5260.8 crore for the year, a corporation note said adding, this was the 10th consecutive year of paying dividend to the government. — UNI

New Delhi, July 30
The government has decided to move forward for the divestment of its share in the public sector major National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) despite stiff opposition from the Leftist parties.

Union Power Minister P.M. Sayeed today said the government would file draft prospectus next week for sale of its equity in NTPC. “I have signed the papers. The draft prospectus will be filed with market regulator SEBI on Tuesday,” he said.

Elaborating on the process, the Minister said NTPC would now file a combined prospectus for selling 5.25 per cent government stake and Initial Public Offer (IPO) for an equal quantity.

Asked when NTPC would hit the market, Mr Sayeed said: “We are looking at mid-September.”

About the delay, he said: “There is no delay as we have always said that depending upon the market conditions, we shall plan our issue. The prospectus will be filed with market regulator SEBI on Tuesday,” he said.

By clubbing both — NTPC’s IPO for 5.25 per cent equity and divestment of government stake by 5.25 per cent — the corporation would enter the market to offer shares worth face value of Rs 865 crore which could fetch it about Rs 4,000 crore.

NTPC, which has already submitted draft red herring prospectus with SEBI envisaging an IPO to raise about 5.25 per cent of its equity (Rs 432 crore) of Rs 7,812 crore, will now revise the draft incorporating the government’s decision.

It has mandated three merchant bankers — Kotak Mahindra, ICICI Securities and Enam Financials — as lead managers and book runners for the ensuing IPO. Whether these three would be retained for government’s disinvestment process has not yet been finalised.

The Department of Disinvestment may also consider retaining the same bankers and financial institutions, which have been appointed by NTPC for its IPO for the sale of government’s equity.

As far as proceeds from the IPO are concerned, NTPC plans to invest the money for expansion of its generating capacity along with renovation and modernisation of existing plants.

It has planned to add 9,370 MW of generating capacity during 2003-07 at an estimated capital expenditure of Rs 41,522 crore.
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Airtel rings in EDGE
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
Airtel subscribers can now get live TV, watch videos and experience high-speed Internet surfing on their mobile handsets with Airtel announcing the launch of EDGE (Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution) services, the first of its kind in Punjab.

The service, which was rolled out in Chandigarh, is the first in a series of pan-India rollout of EDGE to be completed in 14 cities by the third quarter of the current financial year.

Addressing a press conference here today, Bharti Chairman and Group Managing Director Sunil Bharti Mittal said they would cover Ludhiana in August in the first phase, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Bangalore in the second phase and in Cochin, Coimbatore, Jaipur and Lucknow in the third phase.

With enhanced data download rates of 200 kbps offered by EDGE technology, subscribers will have access to real-time news and entertainment from TV channels, high speed e-mail and picture downloads, music and file transfer, multi-player mobile gaming, mobile web browsing and all other content on AirTel live.

The company also announced the launch of the Ring Back Tone (RBT) Service to celebrate reaching 1 million customers in Punjab just within 27 months.

The services would be available on EDGE-enabled handsets being provided by Nokia, Sony Ericsson. A customer will have to type “Edge” and send the SMS to 700. As an introductory offer, the service is available for a flat fee of Rs 600 per month, backed by unlimited usage.

The Ring Back Tone Service is being made available in Punjabi, English, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and Kannad along with the latest songs from each of these languages. It comes with a rental of Rs 30 per month.

Mr Sunil Mittal said AirTel services will be provided to Jammu and Kashmir and UP (East) shortly. The services in J and K should start by August 15. Orissa, Bihar and West Bengal are also getting ready and there will be all-India coverage for the company by March next year.
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IA crashes fares to Jet, Sahara levels
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 30
The war in air fares turned full circle today with the Indian Airlines announcing new apex rates for the ticket purchased 28 days in advance in eight sectors. It would help it compete with the private airlines offering similar fares to attract second AC train passengers.

The new D-28 segment would be valid for travel on the Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Hyderabad, Delhi-Bangalore, Delhi-Chennai, Kolkata-Mumbai, Kolkata-Bangalore and Chennai- Kolkata sectors, Anil Goyal, IA’s Commercial Director, announced at a press conference.

The IA earlier had only two segments, D-7 (one week advance) and D-21 (three weeks advance), under the Smart apex scheme.

Mr Goyal said the D-28 fares would be available for sale on one way or round trips as against round trip fares offered by Air Sahara.

However, the 30-day advance fare offered by Air Sahara is valid throughout the year, while the D-28 fare of IA would be valid till October 15.

The Delhi-Mumbai D-28 fare would be Rs 2500, Delhi-Kolkata Rs 3000, Delhi-Hyderabad Rs 3000, Delhi-Bangalore Rs 3500, Delhi-Chennai Rs 3500, Kolkata-Mumbai Rs 3500, Kolkata- Bangalore Rs 3500 and Chennai-Kolkata Rs 3500.

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Steel exporters’ gain is SSIs’ loss
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 30
The government’s move to restore benefits to steel exporters is likely to directly affect the small-scale industry (SSI) as the steel prices would soar further.

The government has restored the benefits to steel exporters under the Duty Entitlement Passbook Scheme (DEPB) with effect from July 12.

Mr S.C. Ralhan, Regional Chairman, Engineering Export Promotion Council, said, “With the restoration of about 14 per cent DEPB benefits to steel exporters, the steel export would further shoot up, leading to a scarcity in the domestic market.”

“The small scale industry in North India alone is already facing a shortage of supply of bilts, round and HRS steel by around 6 lakh tonnes per month. The price of mild steel (low carbon) has gone up to Rs 28,500 to Rs 29,000 per tonne from around Rs 21,000 per tonne in May, during the regime of the UPA government.”

In the Budget, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had tried to provide a level playing field to the domestic industry by increasing excise duty from 8 per cent to 12 per cent, besides cutting down customs duty from 15 per cent to 10 per cent on steel imports. But with the restoration of DEPB benefits, Mr Ralhan said, steel exports were likely to escalate, resulting in a rise in domestic prices.

He pointed out the small units were not in a position to import steel. Consequently, the cut in customs duty on steel only benefited the middlemen. “They are now making a profit of Rs 7,000 to Rs 9,000 per tonne through imports, and are selling at higher prices in the domestic market,” he said.

Industry experts say that the rise in steel prices had badly affected the small-scale industries, including cycle and machine tool industry of Ludhiana, Jalandhar and auto parts manufacturers in Haryana dependent upon steel.
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Speed up domestic tax reforms, urges Munjal
Tribune News Service

Chennai, July 30
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) President, Mr Sunil Kant Munjal, said here today while the industry body welcomed free trade agreements (FTA), it was important for the government to accelerate domestic tax reforms.

Addressing the media this afternoon he said: “We support FTAs as it will immensely benefit Indian industries but it is important for the Indian government to reduce taxes and customs duty. We need to ensure a level-playing field with foreign competitors.”

Mr. Munjal expressed concern about growing inflation this year because of the failed monsoon but maintained that the growth rate of Indian economy would remain 7 per cent at least

“The impact of monsoon is not yet clear but the inflation rate is going to be higher than last year,” he added.

The industry captain also observed that growth rate had been unequal in many sectors and recommended focus on sectors of high potential growth such as technical, textiles, drugs and pharma.
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Inflation outlook to be same: RBI

Mumbai, July 30
Despite inflation hovering over the 6 per cent mark, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today said it will not change the inflation outlook of around 5 per cent for the fiscal 2004-05 and expressed confidence on conducting Centre’s borrowing programme without difficulty.

“We are keeping a tight watch on inflation. If you look at the inflation details, some of it came because of the global price rise in oil, iron and steel and coal. But there is an evidence of commodity prices moderating,” RBI Deputy Governor Rakesh Mohan told newspersons on the sidelines of a conference organised by Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) and MAIT here.

China was also trying to “cool down” its economy “so there is an optimism on inflation,” he said, adding, the oil situation still had some uncertainties. — PTI
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Corporate News

Ranbaxy profit declines 4.6 pc

New Delhi, July 30
Ranbaxy Laboratories has registered a decline of 4.6 per cent in net profit at Rs 195.8 crore for the second quarter ended June 30, 2004, as against Rs 205.3 crore recorded in the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

The company witnessed a growth of 11 per cent in sales to Rs 1,258 crore during the period as against Rs 1134.9 crore recorded in June 30, 2003, a company release said here.

Ranbaxy’s first half (January-June 2004) net profit grew by a marginal 2 per cent to Rs 386.4 crore while its consolidated sales grew 14 per cent to Rs 2,565.9 crore.

Speaking to reporters after the announcement of results, company managing director and chief executive officer Brian Tempest said the results had been on expected lines and company had already given guidance about an impending fall.

ITC

Encouraged by higher cigarette sales and prices, India’s largest tobacco company ITC Ltd today said its net profit in the fiscal first quarter grew 16 per cent to Rs 462 crore from Rs 397 crore in the year-ago period.

The company said its net sales in the quarter ended June 30, 2004, increased 24 per cent to Rs 1,775 crore from Rs 1,429 crore a year earlier.

ITC, 31.7 per cent owned by British American Tobacco Plc, has diversified into hotels, agro-exports, packaged goods, greeting cards and information technology, but cigarettes still make up more than 70 per cent of its turnover.

Tata Elxsi

Tata Elxsi, a flagship company of the Tata Group, today said its net profit in the fiscal first quarter jumped 132 per cent to Rs 4.39 crore from Rs 1.89 crore in the year ago period.

Total income in the quarter ended June 30 increased Rs 38.31 crore from Rs 33.95 crore a year ago.

IOC

State-run IndianOil Corporation’s first quarter net profit increased 56 per cent to Rs 1,472 crore due to significant improvement in refining margins and higher realisation on inventory.

The company’s net profit was Rs 945 crore during the first quarter last year.

IOC’s gross refining margins increased from $ 3.19 a barrel during April-June 2003 to $ 6.87 a barrel in the first quarter of current fiscal, IOC Chairman M.S. Ramachandran said in a statement here.

The net profits also rose because of higher realisation of Rs 307 crore on inventory against loss of Rs 759 crore, registered in the corresponding period the previous year.

Century Enka

Century Enka Ltd has posted a net profit of Rs 6.37 crore for the quarter ended June 30, 2004, as compared to Rs1.41 crore for the quarter ended June 30, 2003, reflecting a jump of 352 per cent.

Announcing the results, the company said its total income (net of excise) has increased from Rs164.9 crore in the JQ 03 to Rs 227.84 crore in the quarter ended June 30, 2004.

CESC

CESC Ltd has reported a 147 per cent growth in its net profit for the first quarter ended June 30, 2004, at Rs 37 crore as compared to Rs 15 crore in the corresponding period last year, its Vice-Chairman Sanjiv Goenka said today.

The gross profit grew to Rs 112 crore while the net sales increased by three per cent despite the average realisations in tariffs going down by 12 paise during the quarter, Mr Goenka told reporters in the sidelines of 26th Annual General Meeting of the company. — Agencies
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FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT APPROVALS AND INFLOWS.

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BRIEFLY

PNB in Kabul
New Delhi, July 30
Punjab National Bank has opened a branch in Kabul in Afghanistan. In a statement issued here today, the bank informed that the branch will provide a window to non-resident Indians for sending remittances to their families in India. The branch will provide loans for personal and business purposes and offer facilities of opening letters of credit, guarantees for facilitating trade between Afghanistan and rest of the world. — TNS

IOB
Chandigarh, July 30
Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) has posted 29 per cent growth in operating profit in the first quarter of the financial year 2004-05 over Q1 of the previous year. The operating profit of the bank at Rs 352.33 crore was higher by Rs 79.79 crore over the first quarter of 2003-04. Net profit rose to Rs 174.6 crore as against 138.78 crore in Q1 the previous year. — TNS

Zicom
Chandigarh, July 30
Zicom Electronic Security Systems Limited, the leading electronic security solutions provider in India, has declared a net profit of Rs 81.26 lakh for the quarter ended 30th June 2004 as per its unaudited results. The profit after tax has shown a rise of 12.42 per cent over the same quarter in the last year. — TNS

Connect
Chandigarh, July 30
Connect has launched a new pre-paid activation pack for it’s Dildaar Mobile subscribers. A subscriber can now buy a pre-paid activation for Rs 399 that offers talk time worth Rs 220. Mr Jayant Keswani, General Manager, Connect, in a press note said. It is valid for 30 days followed by a grace period of 60 days during which the subscriber can continue to enjoy free incoming calls. — TNS

Joshi Autozone
Chandigarh, July 30
Chandigarh-based Maruti dealer, Joshi Autozone, has been ranked all-India no 1 again in a sales satisfaction survey conducted by Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) on the lines of the world’s leading accrediting agency, JD Power USA. The survey is conducted to ascertain customer satisfaction levels on various parameters during sales and delivery process at a particular Maruti dealership. — TNS

i-flex
Chandigarh, July 30
IT firm i-flex Solutions has reported a nine per cent increase in its net profit at Rs 41.5 crore for the first quarter ended June 2004, as against Rs 38 crore posted in the year-ago period. The firm posted a revenue of Rs 224.2 crore during the review period, up by 22 per cent over Rs 183.4 crore reported in the first quarter of the last fiscal, a company statement said here. — TNS
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